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Sedgwick County issues moratorium on commercial wind, solar energy systems

Sedgwick County commissioners approved a temporary ban this week on the development of commercial wind farms and solar energy systems in the county.

The moratorium buys the county time to consider whether new regulations are needed. Current zoning laws do not include specific rules for a large-scale wind or solar development. Applications for those type of energy sources would be considered in the conditional use permit process.

“This [moratorium] would not impact your smaller-scale solar and wind use,” said assistant county counselor Justin Waggoner. “For example, if somebody has a solar panel on their house that they have for their own personal usage. It would only apply to the bigger, larger-scale commercial uses.”

Commissioners voted unanimously for the moratorium at their meeting Wednesday.

Commission Chairman David Dennis said the moratorium is just a pause, so the county can be ready for future projects.

“It is not a position for or against any kind of alternate energy,” he said. “We are not taking any action on trying to say that we approve or disapprove of alternate forms of energy.”

Dennis requested a zoning review at the January staff meeting after learning about a proposed wind farm near the Reno-Sedgwick county border. That project is still pending.

County officials say at least two companies have land leases in the western part of Sedgwick County – mainly in Dennis’ 3rd District – for future wind farms and solar arrays. So far, there are no pending applications for a wind or solar project.

The moratorium expires in August.